Be proud you people of these graves
these chiseled words this precedent
From these blind ruins shines our monument.
Dead navies of the brain will sail
stone celebrate its final choice
when the air shakes a single voice
a strong voice able to prevail:
Entrust no hope to stone although the stone
shelter the root – – see too-great burdens placed
with nothing certain but the risk
set on the infirm column of
the high memorial obelisk
erect in accusation sprung against
a barren sky taut over Anacostia:
Give over Gettysburg! a word will shake your glory- –
blood of the starved fell thin upon this plain,
this battle is not buried with its slain.
Gravestone and battlefield retire,
the whole green South is shadowed dark,
the slick white domes are cast in night.
But uneclipsed above this park
the veteran of the Civil War
sees havoc in the tended graves
the midnight bugles blow to free
still unemancipated slaves.
Blinded by chromium or transfiguration
we watch, as through a microscope, decay:
down the broad streets the limousines
advance in passions of display.
Air glints with diamonds, and these clavicles
emerge through orchids by whose trailing spoor
the sensitive cannot mistake
the implicit anguish of the poor.
The throats incline, the marble men rejoice
careless of torrents of despair.
Split by a tendril of revolt
stone cedes to blossom everywhere.